A Question of Time:
Comments on the Work of Nayda Collazo-Llorens
by Yasmín Ramírez
Companion essay to the exhibition Tiempo+Consecuencias, Galería de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, 2000
An eminent art professor once remarked that great art is the outcome of an artist asking interesting questions. The question itself does not have to be original, the professor added. Indeed, providing an original response to a question that others have posed before offers an important way to contribute to art history, especially for a young artist who must establish a place for herself. The concept of time has been a perennial subject of inquiry for 20th century artists and astounding breakthroughs have been achieved in the pursuit of effective techniques to represent time’s fluid nature. We need only consider the Cubists’ employment of multiple perspective to represent time’s relativity at the beginning of the century, the Surrealists’ renditions of dreamscapes and images of bending clocks as a means to portray solipsistic experiences of time during the mid century, and the postmodernists’ use of repetitions and overlays to undermine commonplace associations between time and progress at our century’s end, to appreciate how notions of time have affected the production of art. Following the threads of these prior intellectual musings, Nayda Collazo-Llorens has executed a substantial body of work that explores the dissonance between the subjective experience of time and its objective measurements. Working at the dawn of the 21st century, Collazo-Llorens makes use of computer animation to produce densely layered images that simulate the psychic processes associated with condensing thoughts. Much like the mind in sleep allows memories, facts and feelings to merge into a dream, Collazo-Llorens’s diptych, Time and Light, exploits the capabilities of computer animated technology to manipulate and merge images from diverse formats and time periods; it is a filmic collage whose meaning gains greater significance when one deciphers its content. Created in New York, Time and Light is a meditation on the frenzied external (s)pace of the city and artist’s resistant gesture of keeping her own rhythm, abiding to the time of her singular internal clock.
Geochronology is another kind of timekeeping that Collazo-Llorens has often pondered. Her installation, Tiempos, composed of 12 minimalist steel containers filled with dirt and sand from different places, bears some affinities with Robert Smithson’s Non-Site series of 1968 a work begun the very year that Collazo-Llorens was born. However, their objectives for bringing samples of the natural world into the gallery are quite different. Smithson’s project of gathering rocks into steel bins was linked to the dystopian idea that the earth was eroding and that time was entropic, folding in on itself. Collazo-Llorens series, Tiempos, is more open-ended and imaginative. Her system of gathering and identifying natural specimens follows a logic dictated more by poetic associations and color complements than scientific protocols. Likewise, her interest in the erosion of objects honors the inherent beauty in things that are capable of changing over time. Thus, Tiempos and Ceremonia II, an installation of numbered tree branches, are to be enjoyed for their formal arrangements and tonal ranges. But if the spectator is reminded of the ecological dangers befalling our planet by looking at Collazo-Llorens’s work so much the better. It is a subject that the artist agrees we cannot afford to ignore much longer.
Transformación provides an overview of Collazo-Llorens’ trajectory as an artist and her command of traditional media. These small mixed media works rendered on canvas and arranged in a serial format enable us to study the building blocks of her artistic vocabulary: self-portraiture, digital images, abstract marks, numbers and geometric shapes-particularly the circle representing the cyclical nature of life. Transformación demonstrates that Collazo Llorens is capable of going back to her origins without regarding that act as a dead end. The ambitious scale and depth of thought that courses through this exhibition makes us feel confident that Collazo Llorens is an artist that will stand the test of time by continuing to question its operatives.